Thursday, October 15, 2009

Illuminated ABC-darium

Follow this link to the lesson on the Getty Museum's Education Website.

Additional background information on illumination you might like to use, in presenting the powerpoint slide show. Also please look at this link, and the information from the Funky Illuminated Fairy Tales Lesson.

We started our discussion by talking about how much we love books, and what a couple of our favorites are. What would life be like without books?

There was a time when only the very, very wealthy had access to any books, and they were extremely precious. Instead of paper, the book makers of the middle ages wrote on vellum, which is animal skin stretched very, very thinly. They made inks from berries and other dyes, and sometimes used precious metals like gold in the form of gold leaf (gold, pounded into a very thin layer). During this time many of the books produced were scripture stories from the Bible, written and illustrated by monks (who are men who worked for the Catholic church, and lived and worked together in monasteries, separate from villages). (Note the picture of this well-preserved monastery in Spain, in the slideshow).

Do you notice how fancy the backgrounds of the illustrations are? The monks often used designs from nature to decorate the main picture, or to embellish the large letter which started the story. Look at the letter B shown: do you see how the illustrator "hid" a picture inside the letter?

Also notice the beautiful handwriting the book-makers used. This is called calligraphy.

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